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    9.21.2008

    Unleash it Baby!

    Along time ago in a galaxy far far away… I kicked summons ass with the force!

    Alright so we all have at one time or another wanted to beat the ever loving shit out of someone because they pissed us off. Not just beat them but decimate them to the point that they never want to leave their homes again as long as they live. Well now we get that chance for the ultimate revenge and the satisfaction of pure pWnage.

    Lucasarts has given us after what seems like ages of anticipation the Force Unleashed. I know everyone who knows about Lucasarts is saying it has shades of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project and yes it does, but can you blame them? It worked; at least I thought it did. So here we are in 2008 with the Force Unleashed and the main piece of this project is the video game.

    The game released on EVERY platform from 360 to PSP (strangely no PC release as of yet) so no matter what system you’re playing you’re going to get a chance for force aided ass-kickery. The premise of the story is one that finally bridges the gap between the trilogies with guess what, CANNON! Yes for all the Hard Core Star Wars nerds out there it is finally here we get to see what Vader and the empire were up to during the height of their power. There are several appearances by the Dark Lord, and our old mangled emperor, not to mention several members of a certain Rebel Band (Bail, Mon Mothma, Garm, even Leia) The story was great some say it was rushed but I felt it was classic Star Wars and with the amazing Soundtrack supporting it I actually got chills during part of the game, that’s how awesome it is. Enough with the story and whatnot though let’s get into what really matters, the game.

    So if you’ve been following at all what’s happened with the force unleashed then you know they’ve thrown three different simulation engines into the game to work together, no mean feat mind you, the team at Lucasarts has combined the physics engine HAVOK, with the biomechanical AI engine Euphoria, that supplies all AI controlled characters with a nervous system and life like reactions, and they also used a new particle engine known as Digital Molecular Matter, or DMM that makes everything around your such as glass, and crates act as they would in real life, glass shatters, crates dent, huge metal doors bend and creak when crushed by a force push. All of these technologies are state of the art and without them the Force Unleashed wouldn’t have been possible. Of course these technologies were only utilized on the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game.

    Ok so we play as Vader’s secret apprentice who is described as a primal, feral force user who after training with Vader is just super bad ass. He is deadly with a reverse handed shien style lightsaber form and the force, well it just is as awesome as we’ve always wanted it to be. You can grab stormtroopers and lob them across rooms (once you upgrade your force powers you can lift 3 at a time) you can pull TIE fighters out of the sky and crush AT-ST’s into cubes of crumpled durasteel. You can charge your lightsaber with force lightning and then launch a crate, imbued with the lightning at an AT-AT and short circuit it.

    While mowing through platoons of Stormtroopers is fun the real challenge of the game is the battles with other Unleashed opponents, other jedi that you come into contact with throughout the course of the game (Yes you kill Shaak-Ti sorry for the spoiler but the deleted scene from Episode 3 is not cannon) and let me tell you on Sith Lord difficulty she is a tough one to bring down. In these battles you get saber locks and a new thing that I was excited about called a force lock where your force powers intersect each other and you have to do some interesting button presses to gain the upper hand. But the best part of these boss battles is the end when you get to go into a Context sensitive button press kill sequence where timed button presses will secure your victory as you beat the crap out of your opponent. From snapping the necks of Imperial Guardsmen, to throwing an old Jedi Master out of the windows of a TIE factory plummeting to the surface of Nar Shadda.

    Yes the game is fun, it is tons of fun, and perhaps the most fun I’ve had in awhile playing a game what’s even better is that the game is beautiful. Even the scrap heap of Raxus Prime is nice to look at, the level of detail and the scope is enough to make you stop and look for a minute before moving on to finish your mission. That for me is a great part of where we are in gaming right now, something that hasn’t been possible in the past.

    I know I’ve been rambling on and on and will probably be biased about this game because I’m such a Star Wars nerd but who cares. I won’t go and say that this game is perfect because it’s not there are some flaws like the camera it was difficult to keep yourself locked onto an opponent when you were surrounded or he got behind you but if you can overcome that, and the almost random deaths you get during some of the platforming sequences when a droid comes out of nowhere or some Dark Trooper (yes the dark trooper project is up and running in the game) comes and blasts you so that you fall off the platform you were supposed to land on it gets frustrating, but hey what’s a game without a little frustration? Lucky for us there are a lot of checkpoints so no random start the level over type of stuff.

    All in all I loved the game and I’ll be playing it several times, already beat it twice and am hoping to do it again soon. If you’re still unsure if you want to get it or not, do it if only for the first level where you get to open up a can as Darth Vader himself.

    The Rough:
    Concept: Kicking someone’s ass with the force
    Gameplay: visceral and fun, targeting issues but nothing to off putting.
    Graphics: *DROOLS*
    Replay: High, because you get to upgrade force powers and I am a guy who likes to collect stuff like concept art and special items and all that.
    Bonus: It’s friggin Star Wars it automatically is awesome in my book.
    Overall: 10/10 (MY 2nd ever 10/10)

    ~Ride Hard, Game On!

    6.09.2008

    retro Review: Hybrid Heaven

    Synthesize your paradigm…

    So everyone is drooling over the new flashy high-dollar games myself included but there comes a time (Like when your 360 goes Red-Rings-Of-Death) that you find yourself going back to the basics, finding the Old School so to speak. I was lucky enough to have that experience during April when my 360 went belly up. In my possession at the time I had a sketchy Sega Dreamcast, that I customized so it’s a bit temperamental and then I had the trusty N64.

    Say what you will about the system having cartridges when everyone else went to disc the system produced games that defined what gaming is today. Super Mario 64, Goldeneye, Wave Race, Star Fox 64, and the list goes on. Unfortunately with the failing medium that the games were stored on it fell from favor with a life of 4 short years. The lack of popularity caused several good games to fall through the cracks. One that is a personal favorite of mine.

    Hybrid Heaven is true to its namesake delivering a Hybridized type of game that hadn’t been attempted before or since. Developed by KOEi it cobbles together several types of game. The RPG is represented by the leveling system and the menu based fighting. The fighting genre is shown with the combo system and the fact that most of the attacks look like Virtua Fighter rip-offs. The 3rd person action aspect, while not really needing any introduction is also used in pushing the story along.

    The story begins in mystery as you watch the president on TV, take a shower, then watch on as the person you think to be the main character is shot in front of a young woman an in a Manhattan Subway station. The opening cut scene just abridged above is fully voiced, something that didn’t happen often in that day and age.

    Ok so the story is a little hard to grasp at first but play through the game and the clich├ęs do become obvious and get a good laugh. If you follow Video Games seriously as I do then you may know that Hybrid Heaven garnered some negative reviews scoring on the low half of the spectrum by the ‘professionals’ and there is some merit to this.

    The game’s fighting system is unorthodox, not bad. Most of the guys who review games for the big guys (Game Informer, GameSpot, 1UP) are against innovation and only enjoy the old, the certain and the safe. The combat is hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot.

    So you come to face your enemy and at the top of the screen is a charge bar that shows your power, after it clears a certain point you can attack. Get close to your enemy and press A, the action stops and a menu appears giving you your actions; Item or Attack. Then you choose from there with a few simple flicks of the Analog Stick (called the 3D stick in game) Then you choose your move and depending on your opponents reaction the attack is successful or not. There are a variety of moves to learn that make your character assume different stances and the like adding a bit of customization to your character the main 3 types being Boxer, Wrestler, Kicker. I enjoy an MMA approach beat ‘em with the jabs and kicks then slam ‘em with a nice grapple move. The combat may seem intimidating at first but once you get into it you’ll find it enjoyable. The pace is slow so lots of people griped about that but the pace was part of what made the game fun to play.

    A sour point for me and others that reviewed the game was the camera. When you were in ‘explore’ mode for lack of a better mode at times the Camera got annoying and jerked all over the place, and with the 3D world still in its infancy its to be expected but it makes certain parts of the game (IE running from the big blue monster) very difficult to play especially when the platforms beneath you decided to glitch and you loose your bearings and fall, then start all over again. Annoying? Absolutely. Annoying enough to give the game a horrendously low score? Not nearly.

    The game is expansion pack enhanced but all it does is enhance the resolutions with its extra 4MB of ram and the heightened resolutions effectively break the game so it really doesn’t require it to enjoy the game. The lack of save points is also another thing I have issues with there is one save point per stage and if you die you go ALL the way back to that save. That right there is my biggest qualm with the game.

    So should reviewers punish innovation? No, unfortunately it happens. So should you have an N64 lying around your house go to your local classic game shop and see if you can’t snap up a copy of this hidden gem.

    Ninja Gaiden II

    This one is for my Ninjas...

    Ok I love a challenge in my games and who doesn't? Is there a point where a game goes from challenging to just downright impossible to play? If there is one game walks that line it's Ninja Gaiden.

    If you're a casual gamer then you should never even pick up the case for this game much less read this review. In every game you come to that difficult part where you just want to cut it off and never play it again. In Ninja Gaiden its about every 5 minutes where you reach that point you may want to buy a new controller or 2 to have as a backup around the second boss.

    Everything that was great about the other games is back and is in full force and then amped up to the next level. More blood, more dismembering of enemies, more pure visceral action that, despite how frustrating the game is, you keep wanting more of.

    Our buddies at Team Ninja went and tweaked one of the more frustrating things about the Ninja Gaiden franchise (also this was fixed in NG for the DS) but you remember all those times you loose a boss battle, the first 5 times you fight that boss don't lie. Well now you don't have to go back and play the whole level again before the boss. That would be enough of a fix for me but they did a few other things to the game to ensure the lasting appeal of Ninja Gaiden. There are more health replenishing save points that are like light houses in a storm. Also should you not be annihilated by your enemies you get a small portion of your health back after battle (also present in the DS incarnation) You also get a few nice additions to your arsenal, my favorite being the Scythe, sure you cant catch those little ones that jump around all the time but it sure makes a lot of blood come gushing from the big guys!

    As with all progress there is always a step back, ideally it shouldn't happen but we all know that it does. The camera in the game, something that after all the success of the previous games the developers would have known not to mess with, well they messed with it. Its been brought in tighter so you can see more of the action and get blood and gunk on the camera and all over the still present invisible walls. I mean this is 2008 I thought we were past invisible walls in our games. Sure some tricks are needed to get a game to work but invisible walls? Shame.

    The core action is both familiar and remarkably intense. As returning hero Ryu Hyabusa, you hack, slash, and decapitate your way through hordes of nasty-looking foes, many of which are returning enemies from the Xbox original. What makes it so satisfying is how fast and fierce these encounters are. Using just two attack buttons and a jump button, and pulling a trigger to block, you can execute a flurry of slashes, ground-pounds, and high-flying feats with ease. And it looks fantastic in motion. The particle-heavy, blood-spattering special effects and silky animations will make your jaw drop, thanks to the exciting spectacle they create. Each battle keeps you focused and engaged.

    In fact, the standard combat is even better than before, thanks to a few violent touches that take the series to new levels of adrenaline-pumping ferocity. Limbs flying free at the mercy of your blade is a common sight, but rather than collapsing in a pool of spurting blood, they just get angrier. Amazingly, a werewolf with one arm is more dangerous than one with both limbs intact, but this fact is nicely offset by the possibility of a finishing move. If you get close to a de-limbed demon and hit Y, the camera will move in close and showcase a fantastically over-the-top fatality, complete with flying viscera and the ghastly sounds of spurting blood and squashed tissue.

    Make no mistake: All of this is really hard, and the second half of the game in particular is certainly just as hard as the original game. You'll face a number of enemies at a time, but they aren't content to lounge around like Dynasty Warriors refugees. They jump around quickly, may tackle you and execute an overpowering assault, and are often remarkably in tune to the actions you're trying to pull off, ready to counter with their own violent reply. The insane level of difficulty may not seem apparent in the first few chapters, which franchise fans may notice are hard but not as hard as Ninja Gaiden's. However, the challenge ramps up considerably as the game progresses, and you'll eventually be repeating certain sequences multiple times until you find a way to dispose of the brawny baddies. Much of the time, death brings with it the realization that you simply need to be a better ninja. When Ninja Gaiden II relies on its formula, it's not unfair; it's tough, certainly, but not punishing.

    Unfortunately the game leaves its tried and true formula too often and takes a dive into the land of cheesiness. There are some hints of this early on, but the first third of the game and the final third are incredibly satisfying. Nevertheless, the center portion relies on tricks that simply don't cut it.

    Since when do Ninjas have rockets?

    I have never seen a freakin horde of ninjas use rockets to annoy the crap out of you and make you do the same section again over and over until you turn the console off and scream so that the neighbors the next block over thinks someone got murdered.

    Then, after the infuriating middle section comes to a close, Ninja Gaiden II jumps an impressive hurdle. During its final third, everything clicks into place, and brilliantly so. The enemies become more interesting, unfair difficulty is replaced by breathless challenges that reward your skill, and the level designs take advantage of the platform's visual strengths. In the best of these levels, you fend off flying fiends while fighting ground foes across bridges and on ledges, as lava cascades down the cliffsides.

    Unfortunately the game takes another step back when you catch your breath and look around the environment, especially those weird green caves. I mean the Textures look like something you'd see in a N64 game not what you should EVER see on the Xbox360 or PS3.

    The cutscenes are great as well, if a bit cheesy, and they give some flair to Ninja Gaiden II's forgettable story. Not that it's bad, but the tale's just an excuse to pit you against a series of baddies, and to introduce you to the game's femme fatale, Sonia. She's exactly what a Ninja Gaiden fan would expect: blond, beautiful, and busty. In fact, she's so well endowed that you will constantly marvel at how much breast physics have evolved over the years. Ryu's archenemy Elizebet is just as curvy, and a scene that features blood dripping from her bare bosom is wild, intense, and disturbing.

    All in all a worthy addition to a legendary series that improves many areas, keeps the core of the game intact. Though some things do take a hit. The core audience will love it, though I cant see it bringing any new fans into the mix.

    The Rough
    Concept: Don't screw up a classic
    Gameplay: Nothing wrong with it, why change it (9)
    Graphics: Very pretty action, annoying camera, and lacking environments (7)
    Replay: Masochistic difficulty levels provide some replay value. (moderate)
    Bonus: Its Ninja Gaiden, nuff said

    Overall: 8/10

    5.30.2008

    Grand Theft... AMAZING!

    I occasionally get jeered at for giving positive reviews to games that get bad reviews from the ‘professional’ sources. The thing about said sources is that they compare games to each other. For all eternity, or at least the next little bit of time all First Person Shooters are going to be compared to Call of Duty 4 instead of judged on their own merit. That’s just my little soap box there and here’s what I really wanted to talk about.

    If you’ve been in a remote part of the Amazon Jungle for about a year chances are you haven’t heard about Grand Theft Auto 4. If you’ve been anywhere near civilization then if you didn’t hear about it you’re ignorant. As with all the recent games in the Grand Theft Auto series, and Rockstar Games in general, they’ve garnered some pretty high publicity. As always some prude news person has said how the GTA series is ruining our youth, and desensitizing them, blah, blah, blah. If I wanted to be desensitized I’d watch the news then when it was over go and drink a bottle full of bleach. All that they, we’ll call them ill informed media sources, see is sex, violence, and alcohol.

    While that is a part of the game, and can make for a funny story when you drive your car, and slam into a railing, fly out the windshield, then land in the bay where a police boat cracks your skull open. It’s life, we’ve got highway patrolmen running people down in their cars, drive by shootings killing 4 year old kids, parents leaving 5 month old babies in the car while they go to work. When it’s in the news it’s just that, news. As soon as someone puts it in a game all the overprotective moms, and every member of the elementary school PTA is up in arms over it. I’ve got a simple solution for all of you. Don’t let the kids get the game so the rest of us can enjoy a masterpiece in video gaming without you sullying the experience.

    So without any further BS here it is.

    Grand Theft Auto has taken leaps and bounds forward since it first debuted all those years ago. From simple Top-Down game play to the fully immersive and detail rich world we see today as we make a triumphant return to Liberty City.

    From the start of the game you’re drawn into the world by unsurpassed attention to detail that’s provided in the game. Buildings are in disrepair, cars get rust just about anything you’d see in real life happens. If you get drunk, but not that special type of drunk where you’re a better driver because you have to get your car home, you drive really, really bad. Yes Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD got very mad about the whole issue but I mean come on. It’s a game.

    Grand Theft Auto IV tells the epic tale of one Niko Bellic, an illegal immigrant from an unnamed Eastern European country who arrives in Liberty City to join his cousin Roman. Things are rocky from the very start, as it's immediately obvious to Niko that his cousin has been less than truthful about his current lot in life. Still, our hero has no doubt that things in Liberty City are better than back home, where he's wanted by some shady characters for reasons known only to him. The story is more engaging and entertaining than any other in the franchise's storied history, mainly because it's impossible not to like Niko. While the heroes of the previous games in the GTA series were basically hitmen and thugs (well, aside from San Andreas star CJ), Niko is more of a product of his environment than a straight-up sociopath. As you get to know him through the impressively directed cut-scenes and listen to the banter between him and the people he comes in contact with, it quickly becomes obvious that Niko is actually a pretty stand-up guy. Sure, he kills people for money and aids drug dealers, but he still comes across as a lovable shlub that doesn't have a way out of the life he's living. Besides, as Niko himself says during a conversation, it's not like he really knows how to do anything else.

    This being a Grand Theft Auto title, the characters spout every racist, sexist, classist and homophobic thing you could imagine. Although there's no denying the fact that it's theoretically offensive on many levels, it's hard to be truly offended. This is due to the fact that there are really no sacred cows at all, meaning everything and everyone is fair game to be mocked. Basically, the writers are holding a mirror up to American society, at the same time both condemning and celebrating everything that makes Americans ugly (and, some might argue, interesting). Most developers would fail miserably at this, their attempts at humor and societal reflection coming off as mean-spirited. In GTA4 it's generally thought-provoking and amusing.

    As cliched as it might sound, the most important supporting character in the game is Liberty City itself. Never before has an urban environment been so painstakingly created from the ground up to feel like a living, breathing city. While it's not as massive as the game world in San Andreas, the level of detail is astounding. Not only does each neighborhood look different, every street you drive down looks unique. It's an impressive feat, though you'll definitely notice glitches here and there. Our only qualm with the game world (and it's a pretty small one) is that there aren't enough wooded areas. Middle Park looks great, and we can only imagine what the game's Rage engine could do with a full-on forest.

    While the game's missions will be familiar to just about anyone who played the last couple of GTA games (following targets, killing enemies, racing from one location to another, and so on), there have been a number of major changes that make the game much more accessible. The ability to take taxi cabs everywhere might be the most important innovation of all, as it drastically cuts down on the amount of time you'll have to spend driving from one area to another. There's also a new mission replay mechanic that will reduce the backtracking that made the previous games feel tedious and repetitive for some people. If these were your biggest qualms with San Andreas or Vice City, you owe it to yourself to give GTA4 a shot.

    The game also features a new-and-improved targeting system that works quite well, especially when you take the time to use it properly. You can easily lock on to your enemies, then switch between them with a quick flick of the right analog stick, but it's the ability to fine-tune your aim to hit specific body parts that really makes all the difference. It works so well that it oftentimes feels like a straight-up action game, particularly during some of the larger firefights that populate the second half. The only problem with the combat pops up when you're duking it out with enemies in confined spaces, as it can be easy to get disoriented when the camera moves around. This can be easily remedied by forgoing the auto-lock and relying instead on the free-aim mechanic.

    There's a lot of combat, but it's unlikely that you'll ever get used to GTA4's particularly brutal brand of violence. This is mainly due to the fact that the Euphoria engine's use of procedural animation ensures that you won't see the same death animation over and over again. When this is combined with AI-controlled characters who value their virtual lives, it means you'll be seeing some pretty intense stuff. Cops will attempt to stop the blood flowing from their perforated necks (courtesy of one of the most realistic shotguns in gaming history), "killed" enemies will writhe in pain and beg for help while lying on the floor, and foes that were on the wrong end of a molotov cocktail will unleash agonizing screams while unsuccessfully attempting to stop, drop and roll.

    Although it's got a few problems that pop up from time to time, Grand Theft Auto IV is still an absolutely gorgeous game. Like the previous games in the series, it suffers from some texture pop-in and draw distance issues, although these should in no way affect your enjoyment of the game. It's easy to just consider those technical flaws the price you've got to pay for admission to the most impressive game world ever created. There's so much going on that you'll only really notice the flaws if you look for them, and if you're doing that there's a good chance you're missing out on something spectacular. The overall art design and visual aesthetics are extremely pleasing to the eye, and they aren't hurt by the technical issues.

    The Rough:
    Concept: A Slavic immigrant trying to live the American dream in the capital of the world. (10)
    Graphics: I think in my 20 some odd hours of play time I’ve seen one texture pop in. Graphics are amazing, and the detail level is unparalleled. (10)
    Sound: Sure it’s just random assortments of music on the radio, or the wail of sirens, the sound of SMG’s blaring through the night. Or the ever entertaining Integrity radio. It sounds like a real city (10)
    Playability: If you’re a vetran of the GTA series the game will come natural and it’ll feel like old times. If you’re not give it an hour or so and it’ll be calling to you in the night. (10)
    Replay Value: Considering you’d have to be a perfectionist to play through the game and get 100% and it would take you upwards of I’d wager 30 hours. Replay value really isn’t an issue.

    Overall: 10/10
    ~Ride Hard, Game On!

    5.27.2008

    Wii Sweat

    Nintendo does it Tony Little style...

    Well if you’re able to use Wii fit you might be in for a treat, if you’re like a large percentage of America you may want to think about passing this one up. The balance controls and measurements are spot on and you do actually get the feeling of working out after a bit but is being called fat by your Wii really worth it?

    If you have a Wii then you know you get to create the magical looking person, thing or whatever called a Mii. Well the first thing that happens once you start up the Wii fit software and begin to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) and you weight and all that fun stuff. I wont lie to ya I’m a big guy and I got on the balance board and after a few seconds to calculate all the things that it needs then your Mii changes to match your real body. My Mii put on a few extra pounds and then frowned as Wii Fit told me I was fat.

    I was ready to cut it off then and there but then after a moment to realize what was going on I admitted to myself that it was just being honest. So I start the workout assessment program and after a rousing session of Yoga, a few push-ups, some game where you shift your balance to drop balls in holes and then a really cool rhythm boxing/ Tae Bo type aerobics deal I’d worked up a good sweat.

    The game encourages you to check in frequently for body tests and training, providing the incentive to stick with the program that is lacking in many conventional workout routines. Your calendar can be stamped daily with each test, and you'll be rewarded with new stamps over time. The animated Balance Board will even, to your chagrin, ask you why you've put on a couple pounds since your last test, and even suggest possible reasons for a weight discrepancy and advise you on how to avoid this sort of fluctuation. It's all sound advice, and it comes across in a way that doesn't feel too preachy, even if it is brutally honest.

    Then I tell the program how much weight I wanted to loose and in how much time it wont let you loose 50lbs in a month because apparently that’s unhealthy. The software then computes how often you need to work out to attain your goal based on your abilities or something. While Wii Fit does get serious at times it goes without saying that it wouldn’t be much of a game if it didn’t have some well, games.

    Incorporated with the software are a variety of Wii Sports type games that get you fit while you play. If its hula-hooping, or Skiing, or my personal favorite soccer ball heading you are actually improving your center of balance while you play. Don’t think that you’re going to be alone in your pursuit of high scores while you’re ripping down the mountain the leader boards are going to make you want to come back and try and beat your friends so you can brag about who’s the fittest.

    While you should really only have one person stand on the Balance Board at a time (trust me), Wii Fit is designed in such a way as to promote physical activity across an entire household. Up to eight profiles can be created with ease, each tied to your personalized Mii creatures. Each profile comes equipped with a personal Piggy Bank, which collects tokens for each minute, that you spend exercising. As you accumulate more coins, you unlock new exercises, and these are unique to that specific profile. It can be fun to show off advanced exercises that you've unlocked, giving your friends and family a goal to reach towards during their own play session. While using Wii Fit in a group setting is perhaps the most fun way to use the product, those who may be hesitant to share their BMI with others can lock their profiles behind a numeric password to keep their information private.

    Alright I’ve talked on and on about how the game is good, and it does have good points but with every game, not everything can be perfect.

    Most of us know that the key to burning calories is getting your heart rate up, well I guess the guys at Nintendo didn’t. The activities take a miniscule amount of time to complete and then you’re going to have to click through a menu to find the next exercise, no way to make a routine that goes through and then take breaks at specific times that would better suit your workout regimen. I would have liked to been able to create a routine and then share it with my friends so they could see what I’m doing, I could see what’s working for them etc.

    I’ve got a Wii Fit story that I’m going to tell you here. IF you’ve seen a box for Wii Fit it says that you can’t use the hardware if you’re over 330 lbs because the board can’t handle it. I’ve got a friend I work with who had this happen to him. In my opinion he doesn’t look that heavy, but I guess to Wii Fit he’s to big. Now he’s shelled out his 96 some odd dollars and can’t even use the thing. I guess Nintendo only wants certain people to get fit.

    Ok now for my biggest gripe about Wii Fit. When I get on the board it says “OUCH!” I mean that is just so annoying. It’s like being slapped in the face for breathing. Ok while it might not be that serious. It is annoying.

    The software uses the balance board as a scale to measure your weight, and this weight is compared to your height to arrive at your Body Mass Index (BMI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. Additionally, BMI is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight categories that may lead to health problems."

    I’ve been asked if I will use Wii Fit a lot. To be honest I can’t say that I will, is it fun? Yes. Is it engaging? Yes. Is it easy to use? Yes. Do you get a good workout? Yes. Is it worth the price? Yes, that is if you get it for the MSRP not some outrageous price from some online store. I have a Gym membership and I use it a lot, if only just to go and shoot hoops or chat up the ladies on the treadmill. For those who don’t want to shell out $25 monthly but still want to get Fit the Wii Fit may be a good option.

    The Rough:
    Concept: Well the words out, Japan knows that America is fat now, but we’re too lazy to do anything about it. Wait… now there’s a weight loss video game? Gimmie! (9)
    Graphics: As with the vast majority of Wii games this is a non issue (N/A)
    Sound: Annoying chimes and a board that says “Ouch!” when you get on it (4)
    Playability: Well the Wii strikes again at the heart of Casual Gamers making this one an easy play, given you don’t weigh over 330 (6)
    Replay: Well it’s a Mini Game compilation, and if you want results you’re going to have to play often so it’s a forced value of Moderately High

    Overall 7/10
    ~Ride Hard, Game on!

    3.01.2008

    Turning Point: Fall of Liberty

    What if Winston Churchill died in 1931? What if the United States never entered World War Two? Well our friends from CodeMasters and Spark attempt to answer those questions for us with their unique take on World War 2.

    Turning Point: Fall of Liberty

    The game starts out with a scene depicting Nazi fighter planes dropping bombs through the clouds. The bombs fall through the clouds to their target, the Statue of Liberty. The Nazi’s have control over all of Europe and have come to complete their world-spanning empire in the United States. The game casts you as construction worker Dan Carson. You’re working on a skyscraper up in the steel girders when the attack begins. The Nazis are making short work of the city and you scramble to get back to street level off the treacherous girders. Once you make it to the street you fight your ways through Nazis, using guns, grenades and you’re trusty fists. You eventually meet up with the National Guard unit who is scrambling to mount a resistance. The Nazis succeed in usurping the American government, appointing one of their puppets as president.

    For starters, the game looks amazing. Great environments, sharp resolutions and as we all know HD makes it even better. The animations are smooth and crisp for the most part, making the grapple kills even more enjoyable. The soundtrack is a part of the game that is easy to over look, especially when it’s doing its job right. When you don’t notice a soundtrack then it’s doing its job. The soundtrack in Turning Point does the job, it’s not a majestic John Williams composed symphony orchestra, but that wouldn’t really do well in Turning Point. I took time to stop and just listen to the underlying track and it is extremely well done, perhaps a CD in the future?

    Turning Point makes its first misstep with the controls. I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t often play a game where you crouch by pressing the ‘Y’ button on the 360 controller. Other than that most of the controls are standard with movement and aiming on the analog sticks. You will notice though that the movements are sluggish, or incredibly unresponsive, depending on your experience with other shooters. The problem is helped by increasing the sensitivity on the sticks from the options menu, but there’s still that reflex-type adjustment that most veteran shooter players have come to expect from top notch games. Don’t get me wrong it has its bright spots. The grappling is fun, who doesn’t love using an unsuspecting Nazi as a human shield? Or tossing a Nazi into an incinerator. Or doing some crazy thing that involves a conveyor belt and a file cabinet. The animations for the “instant kills” performed by grappling with the ‘B’ button and pressing up on the d-pad jump to a 3rd person view and are varied and smooth, save for when you’re too close to a wall and the camera flashes away, or is viewing the inside of a wall.

    The box and everything I’ve read says the game is run on the Unreal 3 engine. I’ve never seen the engine run this bad or slow. I don’t know if the developers we’re going for the glitchy slow response time for a reason but geez, how can you pull of a snap shot when the game won’t snap?

    Mechanics aside the plot of the game is amazing. If you’re a history buff and when you have a talk you love talking about history instead of American Idol or whatever reality show is on TV now then you will definitely want to pick up this game. If you call yourself a patriot, a red-blooded American then you too will enjoy this game, just for the satisfaction of kicking the Nazi’s out of the White House. If you just like WW2 era shooters, try this one out, a different viewpoint is never a bad thing.

    If you’re a shooter fan however, this one may not be what you’re looking for. It’s no Call of Duty, its not Medal of Honor, it’s not even Halo. It’s Turning Point: Fall of Liberty by Spark. As exited as I was about the game, I doubt I play through it more than twice haven’t tried the multiplayer yet, maybe that’ll be a saving grace but with poor mechanics and what seems to be sub-par game engine I have doubts.

    The Rough
    Concept: Great idea, and awesome for history buffs
    Graphics: 8
    Sound: Without a doubt, the best part of the game
    Playability: Give me 3 seconds to aim while you don’t shoot at me. Unorthodox scheme hard to grasp for the first level
    Replay: Low

    Overall: 6/10